In the digital age, it always seems like couples are competing to see who has the most perfect relationship. It can be discouraging to scroll through your newsfeed and see those friends that always seem to be happy and in love, with no conflicts or petty arguments darkening their horizon. You don't know how it is so easy for them, and so hard for you and your significant other.
Well, I can promise you that it's not easy for them either. That couple that is smiling contentedly at their favorite restaurant was probably arguing about where to go to eat not fifteen minutes before that picture was taken. Those are not the couples you need to be watching to find your way to wedded bliss.
Honestly, it takes a lot of years and a lot of practice to get great at marriage. You should be watching and learning from those couples that have spent a good twenty to thirty years together; those are the ones that know their stuff. If you sat some of these people down and asked them for tips on stable marriages, these are some of the things they would tell you that help build a strong foundation.
1. Be yourselves
It's okay that you're not that "perfect" couple. Stop looking around at other people's relationships and comparing them to yours. If you look for problems, you're always going to find them. It's okay to be who you are, a real couple facing real issues. Every relationship has its quirks, and no relationship is perfect. Even those people on social media that look like their life is a dream come true don't have it all figured out, so you shouldn't put unreasonable expectations on yourselves.
2. Step outside of yourself
When you're married, it can be easy to fall into a rut. Life can be full of stress and frustration. You're dealing with the same stuff day in and day out, and it feels like it's never going to end. It's important to take a step back and take the time to consider what you could be doing differently.
Observe the marriages of your friends and family, and ask them about ways they have improved their relationships. They might have suggestions and advice that would work for you and your spouse, or maybe it will just give you a better idea of things to avoid. Either way, putting yourself in someone else's shoes is a great way to gain perspective on your life and marriage.
3. Have the good outweigh the bad
As mentioned above, no marriage is perfect. There are going to be bad times, and if you're going to weather the storms that will inevitably happen, you will have to make sure there are good times also. Experts have a theory that if for every bad moment, you also have five good moments, you will be on your way to a thriving relationship.
Happy couples are always contributing to their own success. They are seeking out quality time with each other, making an effort to build a solid foundation for their life together. They are kind to one another, expressing love and speaking encouraging words. When you do all of these things, it isn't as difficult to stay together during tough times because you have all of the positive memories and love to fall back on.
4. Don't be afraid to ask for what you want
A big problem in relationships is one person often expects the other person to "just know" what they want without having to tell them. This is never going to happen, and it's always going to cause conflict. You cannot expect your partner to read your mind, and it's not okay to get mad at them when they don't. People don't ask for what they want for a variety of reasons, but the three most common are because they are afraid to, they don't know how to, and they assume.
As justified as you may feel in having these reasons not to ask for what you want, not one of them is a good excuse. Bottom line, if you want to be great at this whole marriage thing, you're going to have to learn to ask for what you want. Asking your partner for what you want, and them responding to your desires and vice versa will only help your relationship in the long run. It will build trust and aid you in better understanding each other.
5. Remind your partner that you like them
If you've been in a relationship for any significant amount of time, then you know how easy it is to love someone and not like them. Your partner is going to do things that just downright get on your nerves, and that's okay. It's a part of life; you're not going to like anyone one hundred percent of the time. It is important though to tell them that you like them.
It's a given that you love them, and they love you. That's why you're together; that's why you put up with all of their little idiosyncrasies. Not that we're saying to stop saying "I love you," just sometimes try something a little different. Tell them that you have a crush on them, or that they still give you butterflies when they give you that little half smile. Just because you're in a long-term relationship doesn't mean you have to stop having fun with each other.
Marriages require a lot of work and dedication. Like anything in the world worth doing, it's not going to be a piece of cake. As long as you remember to act with love and be honest with yourself and your spouse about your feelings, you're on the right path.